Are you too having trouble finding HR talent?

  • Post published:24/11/2015
  • Reading time:6 mins read

What is going on in the world of HR? Clients are queuing up outside my door screaming for help to find real talented HR candidates. They are looking for people who combine the best of skills in HR management (HRM) with the latest HR development (HRD) and organisational development (OD).

For some, HRM and HRD are just buzzwords used to inflate the trivial to something of importance and prestige. It’s now used to brag and in its arrogance becomes insincere, superficial and inappropriate. These individuals have little understanding of its actual meaning and are more interested in impressing others by making their claims sound so technical and obscure that it could only be understood by a small number of people. Oh well. Did someone say lip service?

But here’s the bad news. The overwhelming demand for HRD talent clearly outstrips the supply. Thailand is simply not producing and graduating enough HRD people. In reality we are talking about a missing generation here. On one hand, we have Gen X (over 35 years of age) who has the years of experience in HR but with no theory of HRD and OD, because the curriculum was non-existent when they left university. Then there is Gen Y (below 35 years of age) who brings the theory but not yet the ten years of work experience. I reckon it will take another 10 years before we see an abundance of HR talent who graduated with a degree in HRD and also now has real life and work experience – hence the “missing generation”.

I still see many organisations combine traditional HR with OD, the latter being the new trend for organisations who want to introduce contemporary appraisal systems, setting key performance indicators to establish a pay-for-performance, job specifications with key competencies, leadership and talent assessment through the use of psychometric assessment and cognitive ability testing. Unfortunately, I see most fail in this attempt. Perhaps because HR and OD are like comparing a bookkeeper/accountant to a financial controller, or a marketing guru with a master’s degree in the subject to a sales manager – they all have very distinct and separate responsibilities.

I take for granted that you would never consider hiring a bookkeeper for a financial controller position, or hire a salesman for the strategic role of a marketing manager. So why do we expect that an HR Manager can take on the more complex role of organisational development. The solution is to hire two people for the two different requirements, one for HR and one for OD.9527_Blackboard - LowRes

There is no doubt in my mind why the demand for really pro HR talent has surged. International companies can see just how top HR managers and directors work as real business partners to the Managing Director in other countries where they operate. These companies realise how much more value is coming from the HR desks nowadays. Thailand should be no different, right?

But you tell me why so few HR experts do not take more pride in their profession? Why is it that most candidates I meet at managerial level have not continued their interest in HR and don’t study, read books or follow the trends in Europe and the USA?5512_Statue_of_Liberty_Colour3

More than ten years ago the Labour Protection Act was overhauled significantly. Since then several ministerial regulations have also been issued and then two years ago another major revision took place.

So let’s get to an example of this sorry state of affairs. My stats show that 90% of the candidates I meet for Director Human Resources or HR Manager jobs do not know the correct answers to the most basic of basic labour law questions.

Now check yourself; here’s the first HR question: What does the labour law say about the probation period? The second question: If you wish to terminate an employee’s employment, what advance notice must you give according to the labour law? The third question: If the person you wish to terminate is still in the probation period, what is the advance notice?

2961_thought_fuchsiaThe correct answers are at the end of the story. Now, let me explain why I pay so much attention to how candidates handle these questions. And I don’t care or buy that you have a subordinate in charge of these things. Here is why.

Admittedly, there are many complicated rules and regulations in the labour law and it’s difficult to remember every single detail. Fair enough. But on the other hand, Managing Directors expect that HR can provide immediate advice on the most basic principles regarding probation and how to fire people with proper notice. But to me, not knowing the correct answers to the questions say so much more about the individual. To me it shows a complete lack of interest in the HR profession. It’s neglecting duties, it’s taking a laid back approach and not giving a darn about being up-to-date. This is about attitude and ambitions.

1044_telephone_charcoalHelloooo? Where have you been the last 10 years?

Answer to HR question 1: The Labour Protection Act has not mentioned anything about a probation period for over 10 years. There is no requirement by law and it’s at the employer’s discretion to have one or not. Severance payment is compensation to employees whose service is terminated and has nothing to do with probation.

Answer to HR question 2: Section 17 of the Labour Protection Act states that the employer or the employee can terminate employment by notifying the other party on or prior to a wage payment for the termination to take effect at the day of the next wage payment.

Answer to HR question 3: There is no difference in termination notice as the probation period is also considered a part of the employment contract. Notice to terminate is always the same no matter how long the employee has been employed.

 PS You are welcome to leave a comment – just below!

Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.